Spare Rib: Whatever happened to sisterhood?

Younger women will be denied knowledge of what Spare Rib stood for

Share
Related Topics

How many feminists does it take to relaunch a magazine? None, it seems. I was excited when I heard that the radical feminist magazine Spare Rib was going to be relaunched with the respected journalist Charlotte Raven at the helm. Not just as a magazine, either, but also as a “campaigning grassroots movement”, which presumably means a website and digital media, etc, all impossible back in the 1970s when Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe had their big idea.

Raven had contacted Boycott and Rowe, who were “entirely supportive” (Boycott) and “very positive” (Rowe), writes Raven. But the sisterhood is not a many-splendoured thing of female encouragement. It tends to be a horrid bitch-fest. And when she found out that the name Spare Rib was untrademarked, Raven should have acted. Because on 3 June, 20 years after its closure, Marsha Rowe decided to trademark it.

Raven (who, inter alia, suffers from the incurable neurological disorder Huntington’s disease, and has spoken movingly about how the relaunch was helping her look forward in a positive way) claims she was sent a letter by Rowe’s lawyers threatening legal action if she used the name Spare Rib.

According to a statement from Raven, widely circulated on Twitter, what really stuck in Rowe’s (and presumably Boycott’s) craw was the “grassroots movement” character of 21st-century Rib. Well boo-hoo. So nobody was online back in the medieval era of the 1970s. So what? Rowe and Boycott have, it seems, dumped their support in favour of legal threats which would, if carried out, squander the financial resources of the new magazine.

In their defence, they said they were seeking answers about the business plan. “We wanted to know how it was going to be funded,” Boycott has said. Rowe claims the trademark is a red herring as they owned the public lending rights, and had been told that any attempt to use the name without permission would be treated as “passing off”. “Women gave blood sweat and tears for that [name]” Rowe said.

Raven has since decided to abandon the relaunch, and will simply start a feminist magazine/movement with a new name. Does this matter? Not really. It means a generation of younger women won’t know about Spare Rib and what it was. But maybe that doesn’t matter. Perhaps a phoney notion of “the sisterhood” needs to be replaced by a more general encouragement of working women who are already beset by issues such as lower pay rates and anxieties about ageism and parenting. Who don’t necessarily feel themselves as politicised, and feel uneasy about calling themselves a feminist, but would just like to get on, in equal terms. I don’t know Charlotte Raven, but I wish her luck in her new venture. Anyone who has a good idea for a new title should contact her on sparerib.nationbuilder.com/makingachange.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London